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Parents complicate child custody battle over fast food argument

There is a good reason that family courts maintain focus on the best interests of the child when the court is deciding a custody dispute or child support issue. Custody matters in Michigan often arise during a divorce and although parents generally want what is best for their children, parents are not always perfect. Parents can get emotional and upset toward and ex-spouse and that anger can be released in a way that hurts the children involved.

An East Coast couple is currently in the midst of a custody determination over their 4-year-old son, and the custody battle caught the media’s attention after the mother reported the father to a court psychologist because he refused to take their son to McDonald’s for dinner. It all started during the father and son’s regular Tuesday night dinner. The young boy apparently did not want to go to their usual restaurant and demanded McDonald’s. The father claimed that he was concerned with the amount of fast food his son was eating and allowed him to pick any restaurant other than fast food. That’s when the boy’s tantrum ensued and the dad took him home, where the son eventually told his mom the story.

The mom, in turn, reported the story to a court-appointed psychologist who relayed her opinion to the court presiding over the divorce that the father was not capable of caring for his son. Her decision was based largely in part on the McDonald’s incident and she recommended that the court restrict the father’s parenting time. The father subsequently filed a defamation suit against the psychologist, claiming that she lied about his ability to care for his son and that she never even heard the father’s side of the story before reporting to the court.

When parents are reconfiguring the parenting dynamic during a divorce or child custody dispute, it is normal for them to have certain concerns and issues regarding visitation rights. Parents want to make sure that each party is relatively on the same page when it comes to raising the children, but being merely human, they can get sidetracked over minutiae. An attorney may be able to help parents focus on the big picture items and work towards a productive resolution.

Source: Time, “Not Lovin’ It: Dad Accused of ‘Unfit Parenting’ for Refusing to Take His Son to McDonalds,” Madison Gray, Nov. 8, 2013